The question of whether Georgia’s electronic voting system has major cybersecurity flaws that amount to a violation of voters’ constitutional rights to cast their votes and have those votes accurately counted is set to be decided at trial early next year.
U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg issued a 135-page ruling late Friday in a long-running lawsuit filed by activists who want the state to ditch its electronic voting machines in favor of hand-marked paper ballots. The state had asked the judge to rule in its favor based on the arguments and facts in the case without going to trial, but Totenberg found there are “material facts in dispute” that must be decided at trial.
She set a Jan. 9 bench trial, which means there will be no jury. But she also suggested that the two sides work together to reach a resolution.
“The Court cannot wave a magic wand in this case to address the varied challenges to our democracy and election system in recent years, including those presented in this case,” she wrote. “But reasonable, timely discussion and compromise in this case, coupled with prompt, informed legislative action, might certainly make a difference that benefits the parties and the public.”
The lawsuit was filed by several individual voters and the Coalition for Good Governance, which advocates for election security and integrity, against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and members of the State Election Board. It claims that the current configuration of the state’s election system presents a threat to voters’ right to have their votes counted as cast.
It spawned an expert report that identified vulnerabilities in the election system used in Georgia that led a federal cybersecurity agency to issue an advisory to jurisdictions that use the equipment and has prompted some Georgia Republicans to call for abandoning the machines. It also led to the exposure of a breach of election equipment in a rural south Georgia county, which has resulted in criminal charges for several people as part of the sprawling Fulton County indictment against former President Donald Trump and 18 others.
You can find the district court’s 135-page opinion, urging the parties to settle before trial with some reasonable measures to protect the integrity of the vote in Georgia, at this link.